Day Seven: WE DID IT!!! JB to Singapore

Four hundred and ninety six kilometers after leaving KL, we pulled into Harini and Vasu’s condominium in Singapore this afternoon.  Harini is Partha’s other niece, sister of the niece Jayshree in KL, and Vasu is her husband.  This was thus a niece-to-niece ride.

The border crossing was trivial, at least for us in the motor-cycle lane. We went through in about fifteen minutes total, from the Malaysian side to the Singapore side.  This included the time needed to fill out a form.  Here is a picture of the immigration posts on the Malaysian side:

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And here is Partha, on the causeway between Malaysia and Singapore (technically, he is still in Malaysia, another ten meters or so, and he will be in Singapore):

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In Singapore, we took Upper Thompson Road down to Vasu and Harini’s place, which is off Orchard Road. I had never been on Upper Thompson Road before, and was surprised to find that there was what appeared like dense jungle on both sides and an absence of high-rises.  It is pleasing to know that there are more places in Singapore other than the west end which are like this.

A delicious lunch was waiting for us at Harini’s place, as were two high-energy and fun boys.  Tejas and Rohan, eight and five and a half. Well traveled kids, they have just moved to Singapore  from Angola.  They will eventually find their way to high-school in the US, where their dad’s company headquarters are.  Here they are:

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Would I do this again? Yes, in a heartbeat. I bought my Bike Friday with exactly this in mind, and I don’t see why I should stop.  I would mostly do shorter trips, like the one we just completed.

I may not get to be like those whose blogs I devour regularly, like the Korean couple who we met two days ago, the people who travel for months or even years on end, covering thousands of kilometers at a time.  There is a phase in life for that, and I am not in that phase.   But who knows, that phase of traveling for months on end may yet come. Generally, you do that sort of thing when you are much younger, in your twenties, when you don’t have commitments.  (But, I could see myself deciding to do that sort of travel in my eighties, if I am still alive then. 🙂  )

Here are somethings I learned about long distance bicycle touring:

1) Beer is the long distance cyclists’  best reward.

2) It really helps to have a buddy to travel with.

3) And most importantly, attitude matters.

So all in all,  bicycling mirrors life.

A shout-out to various friends and family members who wrote/commented/emailed me about following my blogging: THANKS.  You were the reason I was blogging in the first place, and it helped immensely to hear from you that you were following. (In fact, the situation  soon became circular: if you were following my blog, you became my friend. 🙂 ) The fact that you were following is what made me sit up each night, up to 1 AM often, after having ridden eighty plus kilometers, filing my reports.  But I will probably slow down with my blogging now, given that this particular ride is over.  I go back to Chennai tomorrow, where Prabha will join me, and we will be visiting friends and family (by planes, trains, and automobiles, but mostly likely not by bicycle, especially given that Prabha cannot ride one). I may do some riding, and if I do, I will probably blog, but nothing is clear.

Until later!

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Day Six: Almost There. Pontiang Kechil to Johor Bahru.

It is hard to believe.  A week ago, we were a couple of neophytes, never having ridden long distances under our own flag, but today, after having ridden nearly four hundred and fifty kilometers from KL, we can quite literally see Singapore from our hotel balcony.  We are in Johor Bahru (JB), Singapore’s twin city in Malaysia, just on the other side of the strait.  We have another thirty kilometers to go tomorrow, give or take a few, before we reach Partha’s other niece’s flat, but first, there is a border to be negotiated. I have crossed this border before, from JB to Singapore, but on foot, and it wasn’t too bad an experience. But it is reputed to be a nasty crossing if you are in a car, not unlike the crossing from Tijuana to San Diego.  Bicycles use a different lane though, the same lane as for motorcycles, and I have heard conflicting reports about how long the wait is for us two-wheeled folk.  We’ll just have to see for ourselves tomorrow.

The small corner of Pontian Kechil right on the coast, where we stayed last night, charmed me immensely. The promenade along the coast, the parks alongside, the eateries a discreet distance away, the administration buildings facing the sea, all paint a very pretty picture.  I had been in a melancholy mood because of my grandmother’s passing away, and the prettiness of this part of the town soothed me immeasurably. This morning, I took a walk along the promenade, and did my Yoga routines in the grassy stretch alongside, that you see here:

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Today’s cycling had some hard stretches, although in the exhilaration of having reached JB, the memory of how hard it was is fading.  Malaysia really seems to be pretty hilly wherever you go, and in particular, this southern tip of the country is quite hilly.  So, although we went from one coastal town to another coastal town,  the path between them had lots of ups and downs. Partha tried to find a route that would involve less climbing, but just like on day two, the path we found also involved some climbs, and it was not clear in the end whether the path we chose was really less hilly than the straight path on highway 5. You can see a hill in the distance on this picture, taken a few kilometers out of Pontian, that was one of the hills we needed to traverse.

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But as with all the hilly sections of Malaysia, the ride was just beautiful most of the way.  The vegetation was dense and lush as everywhere we have ridden, and the weather was extremely pleasant much of the time. It did rain pretty heavily at one point, but by the time we stopped, unhooked our rain jackets from their designated slots on our bicycles, and put them on, it stopped raining.    We saw huge condominium complexes and international business centers being constructed during our ride, and only later learned that we had traveled through the special economic zone called Iskander.

I have to doff my hat to Partha.  He worked significantly harder than I did on the climbs, and came through with flying colors.  As I have mentioned before, I have some very low gears on my Bike Friday, designed for climbing hills. So, while I certainly need to do some hard pedaling, I feel that my bike does most of the work of hill climbing for me. Partha doesn’t have the advantage of such low gears, his is an off-the-shelf hybrid.  It is really a very nice bike, designed to do many things well, but with no special focus on riding up elevations.  So kudos to him, he deserves plentiful plaudits for pulling this off!

As we came into JB, I realized that the flavor of the riding has changed.  After leaving KL, we had been immersed in the countryside, stopping at small towns along the way only to sleep.  These small towns quickly transitioned back into the countryside, and essentially, for six days, we had forgotten what a city was like, and only knew rural Malaysia. And we loved it, of course. But JB is a city, and a huge one at that. It rivals KL in size. And we could see this in the traffic.  It was horrendous.  And although Partha had tried to steer us through a passage that avoided most of the town, we had an unforgettable ten odd kilometers ride on a crowded highway that ran towards the border crossing. It was a mini repeat of our experience of day one getting out of KL.  It is horrible to be riding on a highway with cars, trucks, buses, motorcycles all screaming past you at eighty kilometers per hour.  The sound alone is frightening.

I want to give a special shout-out to the people we interacted with all along the way, from KL to JB.  In one word: they were gracious. There is a gentleness and caring-ness to the people of Malaysia, we found.  Nobody was aggressive to us, and most people were very kind and considerate.  I loved all my interactions in this country.

(But we still have a morning to go in JB! I have heard that JB can leave people with nasty experiences, and I have heard this from people who live in this city. On the other hand, this is a border town, and many border towns  leave people with nasty experiences, JB can hardly be unique in this respect.)

Tomorrow we cross over.

Day Five: Back to Some Serious Cycling. Batu Pahat to Pontian Kechil

Yesterday had been routine, today was anything but.  The day started with ominous clouds overhead:Image

Sure enough, a few minutes after we had started cycling, it began to rain. We each had rain jackets strapped to the back of our seats, so we stopped and put them on.  The rain stopped immediately, providing more evidence for the belief that it never rains when you have protection.  But now we were cycling in our rain jackets, and it was unbearably hot inside. So we took them off, an in five minutes, the heavens opened up with a fury.  We rushed into a neighboring tea shop for shelter.

I called my mother from the tea shop, to see how my nearly hundred year old grandmother was doing.  She had been admitted to the ICU two days ago with severe breathing problems..  I learned that she had passed away during the night.  Not that this was unexpected, but my grandmother and I had bonded from when I was a baby (she had played mother to me when my own mother and father had to travel out of the country, and had continued to do so for the rest of her life), and this was a serious downer. But there was nothing I could do, the funeral was today itself, and I certainly couldn’t get to Chennai by the evening.  I was glad we had over seventy miles to cycle: there is nothing like serious exercise to blunt life’s hammers.

The beginning part of the ride today had some serious hills.  But it stabilized soon, and the road, while not exactly flat, was only gently undulating. The scenery went back to being breathtaking. Particularly near the hills that appeared at the beginning.  Is there a rule that nature appears at its prettiest precisely where it is hardest to traverse?

It continued to rain throughout the day, but the rain was not as heavy as it was in the morning, and we simply rode in the rain. Riding in the rain is actually very enjoyable, since the rain bring the temperature down to a balmy level, and the humidity is mitigated  by the fact that you generate a wind by simply riding through the air.  But especially because I do not have fenders (mud-guards) on my bike, much of my effects, like my fanny pack, the panniers, the bike itself, beams quite dirty.

Along the way, we met this lovely young couple from Korea, who were touring the world on their bicycles.  They are engineers, one with Samsung and the other with Hyundai, who had decided to chuck their jobs, sell their house, and go riding.  They had bicycled through Australia, from Melbourne to Cairns, and then flown to Singapore a couple of days ago, from where they were cycling through Malaysia,Thailand, Vietnam, Laos, and China.  They hope to ride through every continent before they put away their bikes.  Here they are, with Partha:

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Pontiang Kechil, our destination, was supposed to be slightly over seventy kilometers from where we started in Batu Pahat, but by the time we checked into our hotel, we had covered eighty kilometers.  Pontiang Kechil, at least by the ocean, where we are staying, is a very pretty town. It has a lovely promenade by the ocean, with some fine government buildings along it.

Much of the day for me, while not riding, was spent connecting with people regarding my grandmother’s passing away: my brother, my wife, my aunt who traveled with me to Singapore, her hosts in Singapore, and others.

We leave tomorrow for Johor Bahru, which is just across the strait from Singapore.  We have a sixty kilometer run.  I am worried about the noise from Partha’s bottom bracket (where the pedals pass through). If the crank freezes, we are in big trouble.  But if we make it to Johor Bahru, we are safe.

I leave you with some pictures from the day’s ride:

ImageThis mountain accompanied us during the first quarter of the trip.

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One of the many rivers, or Sungais as they are known in Malay, that we crossed, especially as we got closer to Pontian Kechil.

(Network problems, am forced to stop here. Had three more pictures that I’d wanted to upload.)

Day Four: Just another day in the office. Muar to Batu Pahat.

I didn’t realize that we would become such cycling pros so quickly, that certain things would already take on a ho-hum, just-another-day-in-the-office hue.  You know how a routine day in the office goes?  You wander in, eighth-ish, maybe nine-ish, maybe even ten-ish if you are a very big mucky muck.  You chat with the security guy, the receptionist, and anybody else you can find, including the FedEx guy who is passing through making deliveries. You gradually find your way to  your office.  You check your email, respond languidly to a few, then get on to Facebook for a while, before heading down to your firms’ equivalent of the water cooler. You chat some more with some buddies who have gathered there.  Then you attend a meeting or two, speak up, take some notes, then head out to lunch. After lunch you give some orders to underlings, read the news, check your stocks, attend a few more meetings.  And then you go home and get some tennis or even golf in, when the light is still good.  And the amazing thing is, even with just this much work, consisting essentially of your just showing up, you have managed to do what is needed to keep your firm’s wheels moving smoothly.

Well that was what our cycling was like today.  We rode from Muar to Batu Pahat, cycling almost sixty kilometers, but at the end of the day, don’t actually remember doing any riding. It was that easy a day.  For one, it was all flat.  This makes a huge difference to the ride. Partha managed to get Google’s cycling map for Malaysia working (he couldn’t during the first few days), and we learned, for instance, that on our first day riding out of KL, we had ascended nearly a kilometer in altitude.  (This is the total of all the climbing we did, but each climb was interspersed with desents, so this does not represent our final height above KL.) That’s over half a mile climbed. Compared to that, today was nothing: a marble dropped on our road would have had a very hard time deciding which way to roll.

I think we spent more time taking sugarcane juice breaks, pulasan (a rambutan-like fruit) breaks, lunch breaks, check-air-in-tires breaks, upload-to-Facebook breaks, and no-reason-at-all breaks than actual riding.  The road was smooth, without much traffic to worry us. The weather was cool and pleasant most of the way.  The scenery, while not as spectacular as during the past three days, was nonetheless pleasing.  So the kilometers just rolled right past us.  It is almost as if the bicycles simply pedaled themselves for sixty kilometers.

But there are storm clouds on the horizon. Partha’s bottom bracket, where the pedals go through, has been making intermittent noises. If it holds till Singapore we are OK, if not, we are not. I noticed a slight scratchiness in my throat this morning, and I need to watch it.  I moved my vitamin C tablets from my panniers to my handle-bar bag for easy access, and have been popping them liberally.  And the final storm cloud: my grandmother, almost a hundred years old, has been admitted to the ICU.  She is a very giving person: she would insist on giving my coffee and snacks every time I went to her house, and would make the coffee herself.  This happened even the last few times I saw her, just a couple of weeks ago.

It was such a relaxed ride that I took only a handful of pictures.  I leave you with one of them: another whimsical structure, at a roundabout in Muar, the town we stayed at last night. (I wonder if it is a reference to the Sultan of Johore? He’s a bit of a power-house around here.  If he is the one who put up that statue of the cycle-rickshaw that I showed in my previous post, then he’s alright, my kinda sultan.)

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Day Three: Changed our minds. Melaka to Muar.

If you recall, we had stayed last night in Melaka, and pooped from eighty five kilometers of relentless hill climbing, we had decided to take it easy and spend the day sight-seeing in Melaka.  Well, all very well intentioned, but when Partha brought out his gizmo this morning and started to pore over Google maps, we realized that it is longer to Singapore than we’d originally thought. We discovered that if we did not ride today, then we would be cutting things rather fine vis-a-vis my 31st flight out of Singapore, without any spare time built in for emergencies.  So, ignoring screaming protestations from our leg muscles, we scratched that plan, and decided we would ride out to Muar, a little over fifty kilometers down the coast. With a small detour into Melaka just to ride around the sites so that we wouldn’t feel guilty about being right there and not seeing it.  Well, with that small detour, plus with other things we did, we ended up riding nearly eighty kilometers today.  A very enjoyable and almost relaxed ride, especially towards the end.  We are now in a seedy hotel in Muar.

Our first two hotels were far from seedy.  The first night in Seremban was in a standard 4-star type hotel (where the water wasn’t hot enough to relax our muscles), but I do need to put in a strong plug for the hotel we stayed in last night in Melaka.  Hotel is not the right word, perhaps bed and breakfast is better. Partha, who is an avid golfer noticed on his gizmo that there is a golf course in Melaka called the Ayer Keroh Country Club, which has a hotel attached.  He was quite keen on staying there, given his golfing inclinations, and we both felt that anything on a golf course has to be pretty decent. It turned out to be a small cozy place, settled right by the edge of a fabulous green. Run by the wife of the golf pro, herself a capable golfer.  She turned out to be a very warm and caring person, who went out of the way to make us comfortable.  She was Korean, and had just bought the hotel about six months ago, and in fact, had only come to Malaysia about a year and a half ago.  Learning that we were vegetarian, she took great pains to make sure that we got food that we could eat, and boy was it good!  In the morning, she helped us with our bicycles, and gave us water bottles to take with us.  Partha and she had a lot of golf to talk about, here they are, against the backdrop of the course:

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The country club was situated about fifteen kilometers from the coast, and the road from there to the coast had a very pleasant surprise for us: there was a bahsikal lorong (or bicycle lane) most of the way!  This was the first bicycle lane we had seen so far.  While traffic was not bad (this was not KL), we were pleased to be riding on it all the same.

Melaka was a bit of a disappointment, although, to be fair, we didn’t really hit the main drag, Jonker’s walk.  But we got a decent flavor of the place.  The water is very pretty.  We decided to take a turn towards the beach at random, and found ourselves in the Portuguese settlement.  There was this very clean looking building at the waters edge that was some sort of college, but which had sea-facing cannons on its property, and my guess is it was built where some sort of a fort stood at one time.  Here is a picture:

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We rode around a bit more, and then headed south on to Highway 5 towards Muar.  The scenery along this route was very different from the past two days’—we were now on essentially flat country, and only a few kilometers from the coast.  Dense vegetation once again, but of a different kind.  The roadside was lush with mango, rambutan, bananas, coconut, and at one time I spotted some kind of red berry even. Here are some pictures, Partha figures in the first:

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A mango tree that suddenly appeared when I wanted shade, we spent a pleasant ten minutes resting under it.  I was very grateful to this tree.

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Rambutan

Towards the end, during the last ten or so kilometers, we switched to a walking map, just as we had done yesterday, and rode through some really small roads that ran through some very pretty villages. The villages in Malaysia seem very prosperous, certainly in comparison with villages in India.  The standards of development here are very high.  And the infrastructure, even in tiny villages, is very good. The roads are wonderful, clearly graded, marked with even white edges and clear signage.  We rode by many schools, all of which were in excellent physical condition, with sufficient grounds for kids to play in.

And as we rode through small villages, the scenery just got better, with more dense vegetation.  At one point we even came across a whole herd of deer, I’m not sure what was up with that. Here are a couple of pictures:Image

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When we entered Johor Province, we rode by this enormous and entirely whimsical statue, which of course pleased us bicyclistas tremendously: clearly, more of these will solve our energy problems worldwide. 🙂

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Tomorrow should be to Batu Pahat.

Day Two. We are in Melaka!

Today was a difficult day.  Another eighty-five kilometers (it was uncanny how precisely equal the distance was on the two days: the odometer at the end of yesterday read 85, and at the end of today’s ride it  read 170).  It was beautiful throughout, spectacularly so in most places.  But the very reason it was beautiful was what contributed significantly to the difficulty: we rode in the hills all day, and it was one long climb after another starting from when we first pulled out, essentially to the very end.

We started from Seremban in the morning, got a very late start in fact.  It was 11:30 AM when we started.  We pulled into Melaka (I’ve known it only spelled as Malacca myself, but Melaka must be the Malay way of spelling it) around 7:30PM.  Our average riding speed was slightly under sixteen kilometers per hour, so we must have ridden slightly over five hours.  That was five hours of climbing hills, then zooming down from the top, only to find another hill waiting for us at the bottom.  Not that each climb was particularly high, these are rolling hills, but when you spend five hours doing this, it can extract a toll.

(It didn’t help that I didn’t sleep much the previous night in Seramban, mostly due to my own stupidity, but in substantial part because of a very disturbing incident at 1:30 AM in the night.   A man was shouting angrily next door, and I could hear almost all of it since he was so loud and the walls were thin.  He was clearly arguing with a woman, presumably a wife or a girlfriend.  He was getting angrier and angrier, and I was afraid there would be violence.  Sure enough, there were unmistakeable sounds of violence very soon, and the woman started screaming.  I called the reception and asked them to send someone over immediately.  Some people, including a burly security guy appeared, and I showed them which room this was happening in.  They listened for a while, but things had somewhat come down from the peak of a few minutes ago,  although the guy was still shouting.  The security folks then knocked on the door and talked to the guy next door.  This quieted him down, and there was some talk about the woman going to a different room.  I listened for a bit, and it did seem that the couple was eventually separated.  But this whole incident was very disturbing.

I should hasten to add that this incident could unfortunately have occurred anywhere and was hardly special to Seremban.  My wife Prabha has helped counsel domestic violence victims in Los Angeles for several years now.  It is unfortunately a global scourge.)

Where was I? Oh yes, them thar hills. I had no idea that this part of Malaysia is so intensely beautiful.  (Not that I knew much about Malaysia, I must confess, beyond some vague recollection from school that Malaysia is associated with tin, rubber, and palm oil.) Essentially from Bernang to Melaka, the land is covered with rolling hills, and all along today’s ride, we were accompanied by palm plantations that seemed to stretch from one hill to another. Here is one plantation, with a very inviting path through it.  If we did not have several kilometers more to go, I would have ridden into the plantation along the path, it was really inviting: Image

Here are a few more pictures of the greenery and the hills that we rode through:

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There are a lot of little things that one must pay attention to when bicycle touring.  One of the most important thing (beside the usual suspects like tire pressure and brakes and gears and so forth), is to make sure you are carrying plenty of velcro straps and bungee cords with you.  On a tour, you are taking your clothes with you, your tools, toiletries, some food (how much depends on where you are riding), and plenty of water.  There is only so much room on the bicycle to put all these things.  So, often, you end up strapping things on top of other things, and this is where things like velcro and bungee cords come in immensely useful. (Just some thing to keep in mind if you are going touring!)

For instance, here is a picture of my Bike Friday, as she looked at the start of our ride:

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As you can see, there are two huge red bags that hang off the luggage rack at the back. For the uninitiated, those are panniers.  Those are in fact Ortlieb panniers, considered the best in the field.  They are quite expensive, except, by a happy coincidence, one of the mathematicians at NTU who does a lot of touring himself had an old pair that he had used a lot before but wasn’t using now, and by mutual agreement, I ended up buying them from him for a price of a third of what they cost new.  In them are clothes (you can only carry minimal amounts), my laptop (used by your correspondent to file briefs from the front), chain lock, U-lock, tools, toiletries, medicines for emergencies, chargers of various kinds, and other odds and ends. The panniers stay attached to the rack by a simple but nifty mechanism.  You will see a bottle of orange juice on the rack: it is held in place by bungee cords (see above). You will also see my rain jacket, folded into its own pocket, hanging off the bottom of my seat by a carabiner, but held in place on the rack by another bungee cord.  On the handle bar you will see a handle bar bag, which attaches to the handles by, you guessed it, velcro straps. It has things like snack bars, my dark glasses, some documents, and other things I would need in a hurry, I am only carrying three-fourths of a liter of water on the frame of the bicycle, but I have a liter more in a fanny pack.

Partha’s bike looks quite similar, he has his luggage strapped (bungee cords again) to his rack. He carries a liter of water on his bicycle.  He too has a handle bar bag, where he keeps his phone and snack bars and so forth.

We both must look a sight: yesterday we scared a whole herd of cows when we rode past them.

We plan to take it easy tomorrow and play tourist in Melaka.

Day one, the news is: WE MADE IT!

OK, we can retire now.  We made it through our first day of cycling successfully, cycling eighty-five kilometers, from KL to Seramban, and are now safely ensconced at the Royal Bintang Resort in town.  I was quite nervous about today’s outing, since this is my first self-guided bicycle tour.  I have been on a long tour before (Vietnam and Cambodia), but on that one, there was a guide cycling with us throughout, and a van following.  On this one though, it is just Partha, myself, our bicycles, and our gear.  Huge difference.

So, having the first day turn out to be successful is really a big deal, and I am grateful that it turned out that way.  This cycling under your own wits is not a trivial thing at all, all sorts of things can go wrong.  But even if the trip is all downhill from here (in a figurative sense: you will see later what I mean), it would not matter: we cycled one day successfully!

We set out from KL about an hour and a half beyond schedule, but that is the way these things go.  Besides, we were spending time with family.  Partha’s family, but by now, mine too. (Really! I’d just met Partha’s brother Ramu and his wife Jayshree and their son Mani about forty-eight hours ago, but already this morning, I was going: Jayshree, I want another Dosai, and then, Jayshree, I want some chutney, and finally, to add insult to injury, Jayshree, where did you put that laundry?  It is a wonder she didn’t throw me out on my ear within twenty-four hours itself.)

Getting out of KL was a nightmare.  I can’t describe it any other way. We had done a small practice run by going ten kilometers out on the previous day, and this mitigated our anxieties some.  Partha had mapped out a route that appeared to mostly avoid all freeways and only go by what in California we call “surface streets,” but these surface streets turned out to be no different from freeways, only with more exits.  Cycles were allowed on these (or so we thought–it turned out that they were only allowed up to a point).  But to be a cyclist on these was to compete with cars and trucks going at sixty to eighty kilometers per hour for the same lanes.  For instance, an exit would appear, and the left two lanes would wander off to that exit.  But we would want to go straight, so we would have to move two lanes to the right to continue.  But this meant that we would be cutting across two lanes of cars going at at least sixty kilometers per hour.  YIKES!  The good news is that unlike the US, cars here are used to slower moving traffic, and while they do not necessarily give way to them, they are not aghast if you gradually pull into their lanes and slow them down.  But needless to say, all this was terrifying.

Along the way we got lost, of course, and took some wrong turns.  But this was providential: we ended up right at the central train station in KL.  A very pretty structure, here it is (with Partha in the foreground):

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Our route included a twelve kilometer ride through an actual freeway called Lebuhraya Cheras-Kajan (Leburaya is freeway in Malay, this is now burned deeply somewhere in our skulls).  This freeway was actually easier to ride on, since there was a shoulder most of the way, and there were fewer exits.  But imagine our surprise when in about three or four kilometers, we came across a sign that clearly told us to get off and take an alternative route, no bicycles beyond this point.

Partha got his phone out and mapped out an alternative route.  (He is a genius with google maps. BTW Google maps ) This is where it got interesting!  The route consisted of taking a series of small roads for about twenty kilometers until we hit a road called E1.  This involved getting lost every five minutes, since the roads were not always marked clearly, and when marked clearly, did not always correspond to Google maps.  Our first lost-point was a coconut water stand, where we topped our fluid levels with fresh coconut water.  Partha must have posted this picture to FB.

The route eventually led through an industrial street that seemed to stretch forever.  At one point, Google pointed us one way, but everybody else, and the signs, pointed another.  We went with the signs.  It was a straight shot from there to Seramban, about 40 kilometers away.  We had done forty till then.

Things got interesting around Beranang.  We left much of the traffic behind, and it became more green.  Also, it started to climb.  The area was very lush, and I enjoyed the ride immensely.  The climb got very steep around Mintan, but we did it!  I must say that my Bike Friday’s gears are superb.  Of course, I had ordered gears that would be very low, sufficient to climb decent sized hills, but I didn’t expect them to work this well.

I leave with you various other photos:

ImageCricket in Beranang

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The scenery around Beranang

ImageOn the road to Mintan

ImageThe jungle by the wayside on the road to Mintan

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Street vendors of petai, first time I’d heard of it. Thought it was tamarind.

ImageThe view from Ramu and Jayshree’s place in Kuala Lumpur.  You can see the Petronas towers, the KL tower, and a grand looking mosque.

ImageAnother mosque in KL that we cycled past, it was the scene of Friday sermons that we could hear being broadcast.  (I love Islamic architecture!)